Sony has one of the finest mirrorless camera lineups available. With the relentless introduction of their latest mirrorless models, the Alpha range, which incorporates professional features in a smaller compact frame, you have more options each year than ever before.
That being said, with more choices comes the daunting feeling of trying to select the best Sony mirrorless camera for the kind of traveler you are. That is why we decided to build this guide to help you decide which Sony mirrorless cameras from the Alpha Series are right for you.
Let’s start with why you should consider purchasing a mirrorless camera from Sony rather than a regular DSLR from a competitor like Canon.
Why Choose Mirrorless Over DSLR?
Get rid of your DSLR setup and enter the mirrorless revolution.
The two most vital things to understand about camera lens specifications that will help you choose the best lens for you are focal length and aperture.
This debate could last days, but to summarise, without going into technical depth, it all boils down to the small size and lower cost of using a mirrorless camera device over a DSLR.
DSLR used to rule supreme when it came to professional cameras of choice for years. Still, with the latest mirrorless technology and its rapid growth spearheaded by Sony, mirrorless cameras have since caught up and even surpassed DSLR in several ways.
Mirrorless technology is still recent, with several businesses investing extensively in its research and development. It is the future of photography, and because purchasing a camera is similar to buying an asset, who wouldn’t want to invest in a future-proof asset like mirrorless technology?
This is why I use a mirrorless camera and would recommend it to anyone, mainly if you are a traveler looking for a professional-grade camera in a smaller size than DSLR cameras.
Why Choose Sony?
When you purchase a camera from a label/brand, you are still investing in its ecosystem by buying lenses and accessories. Going from one ecosystem to another can be costly.
As a result, selecting the best brand to spend your money in is one of the important choices you would have to make when purchasing a new camera. There are several solutions available, but no brand has established mirrorless technology as rapidly as Sony.
Canon may be the most popular DSLR camera brand. Still, no one can compete with Sony right now when it comes to mirrorless cameras because Sony has several years of experience designing and improving their cameras. At the same time, Canon resisted until recently when they caved in and launched their mirrorless camera lineup.
Because of Sony’s early dedication, they have been able to catapult and lead others in the mirrorless industry. With their quick update cycle, we should expect more and exciting features from them every year.
Sony used to lag behind the competition in terms of lens selection, but not anymore. As Sony mirrorless cameras have grown in popularity around the world, so has the lens range, with manufacturers such as Sigma and Rokinon hopping on board, as well as the ever-expanding list of official lenses produced by GMaster and Zeiss for the Sony E-Mount system.
Overall, Sony is the way to go if you’re looking to purchase a new mirrorless camera.
Differences Between Full-Frame And APS-C Cropped Sensor Cameras
Without being overly complicated, the critical distinction between full-frame and cropped photography in the field of view that the camera can record. Full-frame refers to a sensor size similar to the 35mm format, which has been the gold standard for decades and cropped refers to any smaller sensor size.
Sony used an APS-C cropped sensor with a crop factor of 1.5X on their a6XXX series. Essentially, this means that the field of view provided by the APS-C cropped sensor is narrower than that provided by its full-frame counterparts.
A full-frame camera’s lenses are becoming increasingly significant.
Full frame cameras are inherently superior to cropped cameras because the sensor is larger, allowing you to record more. It would also let more light into the sensor, resulting in a higher resolution picture and improved low-light output than cropped cameras.
However, with great control comes great duty, and that responsibility is reflected in the amount of money you will have to expend on it. Full-frame cameras and lenses tend to be more costly. It is also bigger and heavier than cropped cameras, so it might not be suitable for light travel.
On the other hand, Cropped cameras are smaller, lighter, and less expensive than full-frame cameras. Since the cropped sensor has a smaller sensor, the image quality and low-light output can be inferior to full-frame cameras.
That said, I’ve been using the Sony cropped sensor for the past two years, and I have to admit that the output is more than adequate for travel. The photographs are clean, the videos are as sharp as it comes, and the camera’s size and accessories are still manageable, particularly for a light traveler/backpacker like myself.
Now that we’ve established the foundation for Sony cameras let’s dig deeper into what Sony has to bring in its comprehensive lineup of mirrorless cameras.
Understanding Sony Mirrorless Camera Lineup
The Sony camera lineup grows more and more complex with each new release, but there is a rhythm to it, and once you understand it, it becomes a little easier to comprehend, which can help you determine which to buy.
To start, we can divide Sony Mirrorless Cameras into two categories: APS-C cropped sensors and Full-Frame Sensors. This is quickly recognized by its naming convention, in which the names of their APS-C cameras begin with a6XXX, and the names of their full-frame cameras begin with a7.
The Sony APS-C Cameras (A6000 – A6600)
Let’s start with APS-C cameras because they’re the easiest to grasp. The APS-C series has three primary cameras: the A6000 for beginners, the A6300 for adventurers, and the A6500 for experienced users.
These three cameras, unveiled in 2014, early 2016, and late 2016, respectively, were the three base models that had been the face of Sony’s APS-C cameras for years prior to the introduction of the new and confusingly named Sony A6100, A6400, and A6600 in 2019.The A6000, A6300, and A6500 will be phased out, and the APS-C lineup will be replaced by the newer A6100, A6400, and A6600.
Simply stated, the A6100 is an updated version of the A6000, the A6400 is an upgraded version of the A6300, and the A6600 is an upgraded version of the A6500.
The Sony Full-Frame Cameras – A7, A7R, And A7S
If you find the naming convention for APS-C cameras is perplexing, you’re in for a surprise. Sony chose a different naming convention for full-frame cameras. The camera lineup is now split into three models: a7 (basic), a7R (high resolution), and a7S. (high sensitivity).
The a7 is the balanced or standard edition, which is essentially a jack-of-all-trades full-frame camera that is ideal for beginners and advanced consumers looking for an affordable full-frame camera.
The a7R is a high-definition model with the highest resolution and image quality in its class and a decent all-around camera for most purposes.
The a7S is a high-sensitivity model that captures excellent images, especially in low-light environments, but not much else.
They will apply a roman numerical version number to each iteration of these Sony full-frame cameras. For instance, a7 becomes a7II, and a7R becomes a7RII, and so on.
So, suppose you look at their new full-frame camera range. In that case, the most recent balanced model is the a7III – third generation, the most recent high-resolution model is the a7RIV – fourth generation, and the most recent high sensitivity model is the a7sII – second generation.
So Which Sony Mirrorless Camera Is Perfect For Me?
Anything in photography is dictated by the amount of money you can spend on your camera. A mirrorless camera nowadays can cost anything between 550 USD and 3500 USD.
With a solid understanding of the Sony Mirrorless Camera range, let’s take a look at the best mirrorless cameras on the market and find the one that best suits your needs. Let’s start with the cheapest Sony mirrorless camera available right now:
The Sony a6100, launched in 2019, is now the most inexpensive Sony mirrorless camera you can purchase, particularly after the Sony a6000 has been retired and a current discount that matches the price of the Sony a6100 and its three-year predecessor, the Sony a6000.
Initially, I recommended the Sony a6000, but with the current discounts on the Sony a6100, the a6000 is no longer a viable choice, as the newer a6100 has a much better CPU, quicker autofocus, a swivel screen for selfies, and costs less than a hundred dollars more, making it a better option right now.
If you don’t mind preceding built-in image stabilization, a LOG color profile, and 4K video capture, the Sony a6100 is the best camera you can buy for $598. If not, our next suggestion would be an excellent fit for you if you don’t mind investing more than 598 USD.
Recommended: Sony a6100 (598 USD)
The Sony a6400 is an excellent option for an inexpensive and advanced Sony mirrorless camera packed with features in a small frame. The Sony a6400, which was launched in February 2019, has a 24.2mp APS-C cropped camera, a new CPU, 4k video recording capabilities, high-speed autofocus, a LOG picture profile interface, and several other features.
Despite being a better model, the Sony a6600 costs USD 1,200, about $300 more than the Sony a6400. The Sony a6600 has the same processor and sensor as the a6400, but it lacks in-body stabilisation, which can be accounted for by buying optically stabilised lenses.
Personally, I agree that the value of moving to a newer model is marginal and not worth the additional USD $300 that you might spend on lenses instead.
I used to endorse the Sony a6500 (1,190 USD), which was the predecessor to the Sony a6600 that I now own. Yes, the Sony a6500 costs less and has in-body stabilisation. However, it was released in 2016, and the old processor is no longer competitive in this day and age, so if you are looking to buy a new camera, you can buy one that is future proof, which is why I choose the Sony a6400.
Recommended: Sony a6400 (898 USD)
If you want a great Sony mirrorless camera with all the advanced features, a lot of pixels for printing or post-processing, and you don’t mind carrying heavy camera gear, the Sony a7 III is the best and cheapest choice.
The Sony a7 III has a full-frame sensor, which helps you catch more, particularly in low-light conditions, than APS-C cropped sensor cameras. It is also more costly at 1999 USD and has a more significant form factor, which is expected when comparing it to APS-C cameras.
It is also worth noting that when you use a full-frame camera instead of an APS-C camera, the attachments, such as lenses and tripods, will get bulky and more costly.
Full-frame cameras like this may not be for light travelers, but if you don’t mind wearing heavier camera gear, the Sony a7 III is a no-brainer.
Recommended: Sony a7 III (1,825 USD)
If you’re looking for a compact camera that’s as advanced as the Sony a7 III but in the size of the Sony a6400, Sony has just launched the Sony a7C, which bridges the difference.
The Sony a6400 is lightweight and compact, but it loses consistency with a smaller APS-C sensor than the Sony a7 series. The Sony a7C combines the a7 series sensor with the light body of an APS-C camera, resulting in a camera that combines the best of all worlds.
The Sony a7C is highly recommended if you are a light traveler looking to buy a new camera that will help you to develop into a professional or if you simply want a more portable version of the previously listed Sony a7 III.
Recommended: Sony a7C (1,798 USD)
If price isn’t a problem and you want the best mirrorless camera money can buy, the Sony a7R IV it is.
The Sony a7R IV is priced at USD 2,998 and features 61 megapixels. That is a maximum resolution of 9504 x 6336! It also has the best-in-class autofocus system, more computing speed, longer battery life, dual SD card support, and overall, better everything.
Nothing compares to this model, not even the best full-frame cameras from other rivals; then if you want the most advanced mirrorless camera possible for travel and don’t mind holding big loads, the Sony a7RII is the one to buy.
Recommended: Sony a7R IV (2,998 USD)
If you’re a talented filmmaker who doesn’t need the photo-centric capabilities and all those megapixels of the Sony a7R IV but would rather have a camera that can capture videos, in any case, Sony has just launched the widely awaited Sony a7S III.
The Sony a7S III, which costs USD 3,498, is the finest Sony filmmaking powerhouse money can purchase. The letter “S” stands for sensitivity, and the camera delivers with an ISO range ranging from 80 to 102,400! Yes, a handheld camera that can capture in low light, making it the most portable consumer filming camera available.
The Sony a7S III, with its 12.1-megapixel full-frame sensor, may not be as good a photography camera like the Sony a7R IV, but with a smaller sensor comes better video quality and more features than anybody will ever use.
With 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording, you can shoot uncropped 4K 60 FPS images, and you can also go up to 4K 120 FPS for those crisp slow-motion videos. Also, unlike other video-centric cameras from rival manufacturers, there is no record limit for this camera. It is exceptionally dependable, has a more user-friendly menu structure, and a plethora of video-centric features that will help you create better travel films.
If you are a travel or documentary filmmaker, the Sony a7S III is your best choice.
Recommended: Sony a7S III (3,498 USD)
And there you have it, a detailed guide to choosing the right Sony mirrorless camera for all forms of travelers. What are your thoughts on the suggested cameras? Do you own one of these mirrorless cameras and want to share your experience or thoughts? If this is the case, please let us know in the comments section below. We would love to get some more knowledge from an expert on this.
For now, this is it. I hope you have enjoyed this and found it helpful in choosing your right gear. Don’t forget to follow Cleopatra’s travel on Instagram. We will see you in another useful post. Till then, Stay safe, Stay healthy, And Don’t Forget to Travel. Good Luck